Please be aware that this post will contain spoilers for The Mandalorian Chapter 8, as well as The Clone Wars and Rebels
Such is the way of movies and series these days that when Moff Gideon’s TIE crashed at the end of The Mandalorian Chapter 8, that I’m sure any of watching felt that he wasn’t dead as we didn’t get to actually see the crash. Well, it seems that Jon Favreau guessed that may be the case as he decided to add in another shock for the reveal of Moff Gideon’s survival, as we watched him cut his way out of the TIE using what appeared to be a lightsaber, but with a more angular blade, black with a white outline.
While this reveal probably elicited enough of a reaction from viewers who had only watched the movies, those who had watched The Clone Wars or Rebels probably had even more of a shock as this is a weapon that had previously featured in both of those shows: the Darksaber.
The chances are that we will get some background for it in season 2 of the Mandalorian, but for those who want to get ahead of the game, I have put together what we know about the history of the weapon and some thoughts of what this may mean for the future.
The Darksaber was a unique lightsaber created about 1000 years before the Clone Wars by Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian to ever be inducted into the Jedi Order. At some point in his life, Vizsla was also Mand’alor, the leader of the Mandalorian people.
After Vizsla’s death, the Darksaber was kept at the Jedi Temple, until members of House Vizsla sneaked in during the fall of the Old Republic and liberated it.
The Darksaber became a symbol of leadership within House Vizsla, who unified the people of Mandalore under their rule. As such, the weapon became a symbol well respected by the other Mandalorian Clans.
In time, the Darksaber was passed down to Pre Vizsla, the Governor of Concordia. Mandalore went through a civil war and the New Mandalorians, a pacifist faction led by Duchess Satine Kryze took over rule of Mandalore, while the remaining warriors were exiled to the moon of Concordia, where they were thought to have died out. In truth, the surviving warriors regrouped into the splinter group Death Watch, secretly led by Pre Vizsla, who were seen by the Pacifists as a terrorist cell.
Looking to take back rule of Mandalore and bring back the warrior mentality, Vizsla sided with the Separatists during the Clone Wars, but received limited support from Count Dooku and eventually turned against him. During this time, his identity as the leader of Death Watch was revealed during an investigation by Obi-Wan Kenobi.
As the Clone Wars went on, Death Watch encountered Darth Maul and his brother Savage Opress. Due to a shared hatred towards Kenobi, Vizsla agreed an alliance with Maul’s Shadow Collective. This alliance helped Vizsla take over the rule of Mandalore, at which point he betrayed Maul and Opress, having them imprisoned.
The brothers escaped and Maul challenged Vizsla to single combat, with the prize being the leadership of Death Watch. Maul won the fight and executed Vizsla.
As part of his prize for defeating Vizsla, Maul took over ownership of the Darksaber. Maul intended to rule Mandalore, using the disgraced Prime Minister Almec as a puppet ruler, however Death Watch fractured, with Bo-Katan Kryze (the sister of Duchess Satine) refusing to be ruled by an outsider and leaving with a large portion of the Death Watch forces.
This began a civil war: Maul and the remaining members of Death Watch and his Shadow Collective against Bo-Katan’s loyalists. Maul kept the Darksaber throughout his time as ruler of Mandalore, but he was eventually deposed by an alliance between Bo-Katan’s loyalists and The Grand Army of the Republic. At some point following this, Maul returned to his old home of Dathomir, where he kept it amongst his possessions while he used a lightsaber he had taken from an Imperial Inquisitor.
When Maul drew the Spectres to Dathomir in his attempts to track down Kenobi a few years before the Battle of Yavin, the Mandalorian Sabine Wren found the Darksaber and wielded it while possessed by the spirit of a Nightsister. Ezra Bridger managed to make the spirit leave her and quickly wielded the Darksaber to save his friends by destroying a Nightsister altar. Though he left the Darksaber behind, it was picked up by Sabine Wren, who gave it to the Jedi Kanan Jarrus.
Jarrus revealed the Darksaber to Fenn Rau, leader of the Madalorian Protectors, who explained the history and significance of the weapon. Sabine being Clan Wren of House Vizsla, they knew that if Sabine could wield the weapon, she could unite Clan Vizsla and have them join the rebellion, as Mandalore was under Imperial control. Sabine eventually agreed to wield the Darksaber and, after being trained by Kanan and Ezra, took back the Darksaber from Kanan.
Sabine, Rau and the majority of the Spectres went to Clan Wren’s domain on Krownest. Possession of the Darksaber earned her an audience with her mother, Ursa Wren, however her claim to the Darksaber was questioned as she did not win it from Maul in single combat. Ursa Wren contacted Viceroy Gar Saxon, leader of the Imperial Super Commandos, and traded the Darksaber and the rest of the Spectres for Sabine’s safety.
Saxon took the Darksaber but did not keep his promise and had his men turn against all of Clan Wren. During the ensuing battle, Sabine took Ezra Bridger’s lightsaber and fought Saxon in single combat, defeating him. She refused to kill him, but Ursa Wren shot him when he went to attack her from behind. Having defeated Saxon in single combat, Sabine’s claim to the Darksaber was now recognised.
Sabine lead a mission to Mandalore which saw her allied with Bo-Katan. She offered Bo-Katan the Darksaber, but Bo-Katan refused it as she felt that she was unworthy and had already had her chance to rule. The pair led an attack on Tiber Saxon’s (Governor of Mandalore) Star Destroyer to destroy a weapon called The Duchess, which targeted the Beskar alloy in Mandalorian armour.
After successfully completing their mission (which resulted in Saxon’s death and the destruction of his Star Destroyer), Sabine Wren finally convinced Bo-Katan to take ownership of the Darksaber, as Sabine had to leave with the Spectres but the clans would follow Bo-Katan.
Bo-Katan became Mand’alor and led the clans in their attempt to liberate Mandalore from the Empire.
And that brings us to… Moff Gideon
And so that brings us to the final seconds of The Mandalorian Chapter 8, as Moff Gideon uses the Darksaber to cut himself out of the TIE. This is set approximately 10 years after we saw Bo-Katan take ownership of the Darksaber.
But how did he get the weapon?
The series made references to the Great Purge, and from the way that it was discussed, it sounds as if the Empire fought back against the Mandalorians… and it didn’t go well for the Mandalorians! Gideon is said to have been an ISB Agent stationed on Mandalore, so it is likely that he took ownership of the Darksaber during the Purge. Does this mean that Bo-Katan is dead or just that he stole it? Only time will tell. Personally, I think that Bo-Katan’s voice actress Katee Sackhoff is brilliant in the role and would love to see her appear in live action.
What will be interesting is how the Darksaber links into Din Djarin’s story. Well, the Mandalorians who rescued him as a child were part of Death Watch, as could be seen from the sigil on their armour. This means that I would be shocked if he does not recognise the weapon when he sees it and knows its significance. I can’t help but wonder if we are setting up a rags to riches story for Din Djarin of going from a foundling to being the one to bring back the glory of Mandalore as their future leader and owner of the Darksaber. Only time will tell…
Thank you for reading. This is the Way.